Is free streaming really in danger? We wrote last month that the launch of services like Tidal marked the dawn of a new era for the industry, but who could have guessed then that things would move so fast?
This time, even the US Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission are involved: according to The Verge, they’re currently looking into Apple’s “aggressive tactics” — the music giant could be “pushing music labels to kill free Spotify streaming” ahead of Beats Music’s imminent relaunch as iTunes’ streaming service. As ever with Apple, such reports are very difficult to confirm. But with the company’s new music service rumoured to be revealed early June, we shouldn’t be kept in the dark for much longer…
Meanwhile, Tidal has yet to prove a success. Its chief investment officer Vania Schlogel notably told Business Insider UK that “the global (music) streaming industry, in terms of paid subscribers, has less paid subscribers than Netflix alone.” But where the Tidal team sees an opportunity, more and more analysts see a gap that’s become impossible to fill for the music ecosystem as a whole. Has music missed its “Netflix moment,” as Music Business Worldwide suggests (see chart below)?
Netflix’s strident mission to move its rental consumers to streaming showed an early confidence in transitioning from a lucrative but dying format (DVD) to a future-proofed digital alternative. It is hard to conclude anything other than the fact that the music industry (and, by association, Apple) has largely resisted doing the same, maximising the boom years of CD and iTunes while refusing to slay its golden goose by pushing consumers to paid-for streaming too early.
Chart via Music Business Worldwide
If a business model shift isn’t enough to bring the industry back to its glory days, then what will? Innovation in general, Wired UK writes. The magazine praises Kobalt, for instance, calling it “the most important music company you’ve never heard of.” The service allows songwriters, like the feature’s cover star, Skrillex, “to view every single instance when their work is streamed on Deezer or Spotify, broadcast on radio, sold as a CD, featured in a film, played in a pub, pirated by a fan in a YouTube video, sampled in a TV show or included in a Champions League ad,” all in real time. A convincing answer to many artists’ ongoing criticism of certain streaming services?
Digital innovation is also at the core of recent marketing and tech initiatives, such as the use of messaging apps – thoroughly scrutinised at Music Ally’s Future Music Marketing event a few weeks ago – or the rise of online concert subscription services, thanks to startups like Jukely. TechCrunch reveals that the Midemlab 2014 finalist has just raised $8 million to expand its service!
There may not be a definitive answer yet to all the questions raised by digital disruption in music, but one thing is for sure: the amount of energy and hope from all sides to push the industry forward has never been more obvious. Be it digital distribution services merging together and thus getting stronger — Music Business Worldwide reports that Believe Digital has acquired rival Tunecore — to women being encouraged to play bigger roles in music, as these tips from PIAS show. Many of these top female executives will be at Midem 2015, to tell us about their respective experiences!
All these burning topics – and much more – will be discussed at Midem in just a month’s time – June 5-8. See you in Cannes!
Top photo via Shutterstock – scyther5